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iPhone frustrations

2009-05-13 19:25:42.515366+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

Maybe it's expectations. Maybe I should be amazed that I have a full-color web browser in my pocket (although I was accessing internet maps from a PDA back in the y2k timeframe) and not frustrated by all the little quirks and half-finished crap that seem to plague this device, but:

  • Charlene's iPhone needs a new screen. It's got color fringing and minor jigglyness. There's a trip to the Apple store and some hours, perhaps days, without a phone. Guess we'll need to get another phone for backup (Forest got the Nokia, the LGs both died (nobody mourned the latter)).
  • The JPEG images in any way I can get them off the device have no EXIF data. WTF? You don't have to store much, but how about creation date/time?
  • The paternalistic "Apple knows best" attitude. There's a lot of cool applications out there for the iPhone. Most of them require jailbreaking your iPhone. The cool apps which don't are hobbled by the fact that it apparently takes weeks to get an update through the iPhone store.
  • All the apps which take a meaningful amount of time to do something, which seems to be everything that'll batch upload photos, also appear to tank if the screen saver kicks in. So photo uploading is a "keep tapping the screen" process.
  • The prevalence of non-useful error messages. And if an app is killed because some sort of exception, it'd be nice to know, rather than "Oh, look, I'm back at the apps screen, I wonder what happened?"
  • Battery life. Although it's better (ie: actually usable untethered) if you turn off WiFi.
  • iTunes. I was going to leave it at that, but: Good Deities what a steaming pile of annoying UI decisions.
  • A useful search in iTunes: Find "App Store" on the left side of the iTunes home screen, then "Power Search" over on the right side. That big "Search" box on the upper left of the application window is useful only if you're looking songs from the latest third string auto-tune user.
  • Hey, they're all web pages anyway, how about letting me access them from Linux?
  • Bookmark sync options in iTunes: IE and Safari. Firefox? Opera? Bzzzt. Thank you for playing.
  • Auto-correction. I have yet to have this do the right thing. It's wrong often enough that I can't just keep tapping after I make a keyboard mistake, because it'll take longer to correct that than to just go back and fix what's there.
  • Not all text fields allow cursor repositioning. Huh.
  • That loud shutter sound and image that freezes for a moment when you take a picture? Yeah, not actually your picture, that'll be taken some short but apparently random time later, leading to images of sidewalks and parking lot stripes if you don't hold the camera up for a fairly long-time afterwards.

The web in my hand is very cool (although I did have this 8 or 9 years ago with the Palm Vx and OmniSky back). The digitizer rocks. The screen is... well... for reading any amount of text, I actually preferred the old monochrome LCD on my Palm Vx, but that may be mostly font choices and sizes.

I'm not quite ready to take it back, but the experience is marred by crap that just has rough edges. I expected better.

[ related topics: Free Software Apple Computer Interactive Drama User Interface Photography Open Source Invention and Design Travel Net Culture Typography Graphic Design Maps and Mapping iPhone ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 20:34:47.303266+00 by: Jim S

The EXIF is there, it comes out if you sync with iPhoto. Time, location (if you let it), camera model, and the token imaging element, aperture.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 21:23:15.764024+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ah. No iPhoto here. Just copying off the device when it mounts as a drive when it plugs in, or with any of the aforementioned photo upload applications.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 21:30:27.72983+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ah: Further gripe: Erasing an image takes about two seconds, most of that is the animation of the image getting sucked into the trash can. Be nice if I could turn that off and get that time back.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 22:18:44.195797+00 by: jeff

Sounds like a mix of usable functionality and junk? How do you measure your opportunity cost (time sink) of evaluating junk? Having said that, I've come close to begin considering an iPhone.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 22:57:56.547302+00 by: Dan Lyke

Jeff, I think the decision to go with the iPhone was largely one of the considerable cost of evaluating the competing products. With the iPhone, you walk in, what you get is mostly up-front. With any of the other products currently on the market, at least with AT&T, we have to research out the device, when we ask how much it costs we get "that depends on...", it's just a big hassle.

With the iPhone it's "Here's the device, get and send email, browse the web, do maps, $30/month over your current plan, use the data options as much as you want."

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-13 23:02:30.691368+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, this is completely bizarre: Download from the iPhone with Picasa, the EXIF data is there. WTF?

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 02:23:37.68807+00 by: Larry Burton

>> With the iPhone it's "Here's the device, get and send email, browse the web, do maps, $30/month over your current plan, use the data options as much as you want."

That's what I got from AT&T with my Blackberry Curve.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 09:27:30.473868+00 by: DaveP

I've never downloaded a photo from my iPhone. I always email them to myself. EXIF data survives (including location data, if the phone has had time to figure out where it is), and since my phone has a different email account than everything else, I get two backup copies along the way.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 10:06:32.664301+00 by: meuon

You are a power user using a device that to the masses is just PFM: Pure Frigging Magic. I had to tell myself: Drink the kool-aid.. drink the kool-aid..

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 12:07:17.48111+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Dave, what are you using to read the EXIF data? I'm getting nothing using jhead. Wait, got something that time. Hmmm...

Meuon, yep. It's just that when I look at this device I see possibilities, and get arbitrary limitations that have nothing to do with technology.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-14 21:12:22.019065+00 by: Dan Lyke

Aha! Here's a blog entry by some developers about the lack of EXIF data in images created by third party apps.

It's Apple pretending to be Microsoft: They've got one set of APIs they use for their own apps, another crippled one for third-party developers.

The end result is that anything aside from Apple's "Camera" app that takes a picture can't write EXIF data, and anything aside from Apple's "Photos" app can't send images from the album with attached EXIF data.

#Comment Re: iPhone Evaluation? made: 2009-06-08 19:36:00.451736+00 by: jeff

Dan--where are you with your ongoing iPhone evaluation?

My current carrier (Sprint) called me today with some upgrade offers, and I'm wondering if now might be the time to switch to another platform/carrier/contract.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-08 21:14:09.345185+00 by: Dan Lyke

People have been complaining about the Palm Pre's battery life, but it's hard to imagine that it's worse than the iPhone 3g, and the phone looks like it's got a bunch of nice features. I'd also seriously consider something with a keyboard, the touch-screen keyboard is kind of lame.

It's okay, but I'd give the Crackberry and the Palm Pre a really good look. The iPhone is a great little web browsing platform, a so-so phone, and crippled enough that it's not really the general purpose computing platform it could be.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-08 21:25:47.097359+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh yeah: The best apps on the iPhone are the ones from Google. I don't know what the state of Android is, but I'm guessing that their OS would be a good one to run their apps on...

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-08 23:51:48.248145+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

I have a shiny new Palm Pre in my hot little hands. There are several things one can do to improve the battery life with a Pre, including the non-intuitive-at-first action of enabling WiFi at all times rather than relying on Sprint's data network (which is good, but harder on the battery), and disabling the every-15-minutes polling of one's gmail account for synching (if linked), opting instead to be alerted whenever a new email arrives. With this setup, I've only dropped it on the charger at night when I hit the bed (and the Touchstone induction charger brought my unit from 14% to 100% in just over an hour, which doesn't seem unreasonable to me at all). Now of course this is only the 3rd day I've had mine, but so far I'm not disappointed with battery life (and I do have multiple apps running at once). And in a nice touch, the battery is removable and replaceable in the Pre.

The Pre app store has had multiple new apps each day so far, and I'm happy with many of them. This is a sleek, sexy, intuitive, integrated, speedy, and fun little device. Not perfect, but I gotta say, I lovelovelovelovelove it.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-09 00:05:01.698833+00 by: Diane Reese

Photos taken with the (surprisingly good) camera in the Pre have EXIF data once you've enabled the GPS app and geotagging function. (I hope I said that right, this is a bit outside my normal experience area.) Does anyone have any questions about the Pre that I could try to answer?

Jeff, if you're a Sprint customer now, you may want to give serious consideration to the Pre. I'd have both my thumbs up, if they weren't busy being used to swipe cards around... :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-09 02:04:57.486359+00 by: jeff

Dan and Diane--thanks for the heads-up on the Palm Pre. I may just have to take a look at one.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-06-09 12:50:35.299837+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oooh, Diane, thanks for the "leave WiFi on" suggestion. I've been turning off both WiFi and 3G unless I'm actively browsing. Last night I left the iPhone off the charger because I'd left it charging all day, and this morning I've got 2/3rds of the battery left, even with some use yesterday evening.